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College Groups Back U. of Colorado’s Immunity Claim in Churchill Case

Four associations that represent college leaders are urging the Colorado Supreme Court to declare that the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents is a quasi-judicial body and thus immune from a lawsuit in which Ward Churchill, the controversial ethnic-studies scholar, challenges his dismissal from the university system’s Boulder campus. In a brief submitted on Wednesday, the groups argue that the reversal of a lower-court ruling granting the board immunity  “would not only infringe on the institutional autonomy that is the cornerstone of academic freedom, but would chill universities’ incentive to provide robust internal processes for faculty misconduct proceedings.” The American Council on Education, an umbrella group, took the lead in drafting the friend-of-the-court brief, which was also signed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Association of American Universities, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. The American Association of University Professors and various civil-liberties groups have accused the university of violating the academic freedom and free-speech rights of Mr. Churchill, who was investigated and dismissed in the wake of controversy over remarks he had made about the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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